Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Review: Ping-Eee Netbook OS

Hey guys, today I'm going to be reviewing the new Pinguy OS derivative, Ping-Eee. This is a version of the very popular Pinguy OS that is optimised for small netbook screens. I am actually writing this post on my Compaq Mini 110 Netbook which is running Ping-Eee.

Ping-Eee OS review
Default Ping-Eee Desktop

Above is the default desktop for Ping-Eee, as you can see it looks a lot like the default PinguyOS desktop - pretty slick! The big difference between this and the big brother desktop version is that there are A LOT less applications on this version. VBox isn't present, Rhythmbox has been replaced by Clementine and all the usual candidates like the MintMenu and Mint Updater are present :)

This distro is based on Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal isn't running the Unity desktop but Gnome 2.32.1.

My netbook has a couple of upgrades. I upped the RAM from 1GB to 2GB and I replaced the stock 5400RPM SATA HDD for a 16GB SSD. All in all, performance is good, very good. My system boots in around 8-10 seconds and has very little lag indeed - extremely workable for me as my work horse. Currently running 5 tabs in Chrome I am using a little less than 600MB RAM. I have a Windows XP VM that I use from time to time - this runs from an 8GB SD card and the system RAM hits around 1GB with this VM running.

The basic install is around 4.5GB, with my docs etc all synced via dropbox I have around 50% of my SSD in reserve should I need it. With it only being 4.5GB for a fresh install, those users with an 8GB SSD should have no problems and some space left over.

I have tried many different Operating Systems on my netbook including Elementary OS, Ubuntu 11.04, Meego, Jolicloud even Windows 7! Trying to find the right balance of performance versus stability versus size - Ping-Eee ticks all boxes for me.

After some customisation and and little bit of playing around here is my netbook desktop:

If you want to give Ping-Eee a try then why not download it and give it a go, link below:

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How To Use Google+ AND Google Apps

Hey All,

Welcome back to my Jing's Things! Like me you have heard about Google+ and want to play around with it, BUT, you are using google apps and can't setup a Google+ profile. Well people, I have found a work around that will let you setup a Google+ account (with an address) and be able to simultaneously sign in to your google apps webmail. There are actually a few ways of doing this, each I have explained below:

Stop Using Webmail
Instead of using webmail for your google apps account (or gmail for that matter) you could setup your emails with an email client like Thunderbird then set it up using IMAP - this way all your mail will remain on google servers as a backup. See the instruction guide here on how to setup IMAP with google apps.

Doing this will mean that you won't have to be signed in to your google apps account and you can then stay logged in to your Gmail account. You can also get addons for Thunderbird that allow you to sync your google contacts and calendar.

Use Different Browsers
Having more than one browser on your computer is a good idea anyway if you ask me. Having 2 browsers on your machine means that you can use one browser for Google+ and the other for all of your Google Apps stuff. If you want to do this, I would recommend using Google Chrome (download it here) and Firefox (download it here). I personally use Chrome as my default browser.

My Workaround - Enable Multiple Sign In
This is what I do. You can enable dual sign in for your Gmail & Google Apps accounts. This can be done by following the instructions below:

If you use multiple sign-in, the first account you use to sign in during that browser session will be your default account for the rest of that session. If you visit other Google products that don't support multiple accounts after you've signed in, you will automatically sign in to your default account for that product. If you sign out of any Google product while signed in to any account, you will be signed out of all your Google Accounts at once.

To enable multiple sign-in:

Warning: Enabling multiple sign-in will disable Offline products like Offline Gmail and Offline Calendar, as well as any browser bookmarks you've set to link to your accounts. If you use Offline Gmail, make sure to sync your offline mail before enabling multiple sign-in so you don't lose any messages in your outbox. If you would like to continue using Offline Gmail, Offline Calendar, and browser bookmarks linked to your accounts, do not enable the multiple sign-in option. If you have already enabled multiple sign-in, you may disable it.

  1. Go to the multiple sign-in settings page. new window
  2. Sign in to your account.
  3. Select On to enable the multiple sign-in feature and select the checkboxes to confirm that you understand how to use multiple sign-in. Read more about what you need to understand before using multiple sign-in.
  4. Click Save changes.

You can check whether multiple sign-in is enabled, or disable the option for your account at any time, by visiting your multiple sign-in settings page. new window Also, if you have multiple sign-in enabled, you will be able to see your additional accounts by clicking on your name or email address at the top of the page.

To enable multiple sign-in on additional accounts:

Once you've enabled multiple sign-in for one of your Google Accounts, follow the steps below to enable multiple sign-in for additional accounts you would like to sign in to:

  1. Sign in to a product that supports multiple sign-in, using an account that has multiple sign-in enabled.
  2. Click your name or email address at the top of the page.
  3. Select Sign in to another account from the drop-down menu.
  4. On the page that opens, enter the email address and password for another account you wish to access, and click Sign in.

Features of Gmail that depend on other Google products won't work with any additional accounts you sign in to. For example, the Calendar Gadget in Gmail labs won't work with additional accounts because the Calendar Gadget does not yet support multiple accounts.

When using multiple accounts, you will have to sign in to these accounts using the multiple sign-in feature. You can not use shortcuts in a new window such as new window to access additional accounts.

You can find more information HERE.

At the moment Google+ is by invitation only, if you don't have a Google+ invite then email me at with your Gmail address and I will send you an invite.
Addresses will NOT be passed on to anyone and will NEVER be used to spam.

Friday, 1 July 2011

How I Made My Own Chromebook For Less Than £50!

Hey Guys!

As you probably know, Google are soon to release their new Chromebook Netbooks that will be running the swanky new Chrome OS. Me being the geek that I am, coupled with the fact that I love all things Google, I REALLY want one of these. Soon after having a look at these things online, like a good partner, I discussed it with my girlfriend...who, as all girlfriends do, soon brought me back down to earth "you have 2 phones, a tablet, a netbook, 2 laptops & a PC. Do you really need to waste £250 on one of these?". So this got me thinking, what can I do to make my own Chromebook without the big price on.

So, I already have a netbook, it's a standard Compaq Mini 110 with a RAM upgrade to 2GB and is running Elementary OS. It runs well, but I do use the cloud a lot. All of my docs are in Google Docs, I use Google Apps for my emails, calendar & contacts and my pics and music are in Dropbox. I am already half way there to running a cloud OS.

After some research online, I came across a great Open Source OS called Jolicloud. For those of you that don't know, Jolicloud is a HTML 5 front end that sits on top of an Ubuntu based linux distro - much like Chrome OS. So I started playing around with it, got all of my web apps setup to go to my google apps pages and away I went. It even syncs your 'desktop' to the jolicloud cloud so you can access you webapps by going to
My Jolicloud OS 'Desktop'

So as you can see above, I have my 'desktop' with my webapps but those with a keener eye amongst you will be saying "hang on, I didn't know you can get Pidgin as a web app!"....well my friends, that's because you can't and this is where Jolicloud (IMHO) is superior to Chrome OS - you can install local apps. Currently the only apps I have installed locally are the OS itself, which comes with Chromium pre-installed, Firefox 5 and Pidgin. Now I could use a web based app like eBuddy for my IM but I love Pidgin - so why not use it if I can install it. So, if you want, you can have a hybrid of cloud computing and a conventional desktop.

So, I now have my Cloud OS and my web apps all setup but there is still one thing missing, the performance. The new Chromebooks come with a 16GB SSD instead of a conventional SATA Hard Drive. So I went online, bought myself a 16GB SSD for around £45.00 (I'm in the UK) and away I went. I am creating this post now within Jolicloud, running my new 16GB SSD (and I currently have 11.2GB free on it!!) it boots up in around 5-10 seconds and the performance is great!

Oh, did I also mention that Jolicloud had plugins that allow you to browse, create & edit your Dropbox and Google Docs accounts natively without storing them locally - now that's impressive!
My Dropbox account all online but usable in Jolicloud

All in all Jolicloud is a great OS that has been around for a while now. So if you have a netbook, £45 spare and an hour on your hands - why not make your own 'Jolibook'. Please bear in mind that I will more than likely still get a Chromebook. :)